Some people have been going on about the movie Into the Wild as an example of anti-love ethics. I think I found the female equivalent when I was watching Rachel Ray while babysitting. They had actress Leah Rimini on, who apparently was the female lead in King of Queens.
Leah let Rachel Ray’s camera people create “a day in the life” video of her, Angelo (husband), and Sophia (daughter). I couldn’t believe my eyes as I watched Leah dote on her three-year-old’s infantile behavior. “Well, of course she’s infantile,” you say. “She’s only three!”
But I’m not just referring to tantrums and crying fits, although there was plenty of that. This 3 ½ year old kid was still on the bottle. She drinks milk and water from baby bottles at an alarming rate, especially at night when she downs six to eight “aqua babas” a night. Oh, and she sleeps between the parents in their bed every night.
She wakes up and cries about every hour, and they shove a bottle in her face to shut her up. An hour later, she’s up crying because she wet her diaper. So they change her give her another bottle, which of course means another wet diaper later. How dumb can you be? It’s simple cause-and-effect. Not to mention you’re being completely manipulated by a chubby preschooler!
At first I was horrified that the show would be promoting such an atrocious approach to parenting. I mean, Rachel Ray might come off a little ditzy, but this was deplorable! But as the program continued, it appeared that Rachel Ray, without ever really condemning Leah, was trying to reform her. They brought in a pediatrician to give Leah a reality check about the how abnormal and problematic a preschooler on a bottle is. Then they had a hardened mother of three try to teach her to say no to her little devil. Not that you need any child-rearing experience to figure out what’s wrong with the situation.
What shocked me most was Leah’s reaction to people telling her it’s a problem. She made statement like, “People tell me my kid’s manipulating me, but I don’t see how she’s doing that. I’m just taking care of my little girl and there’s nothing manipulating about that at all.” Are you for real? Her approach to child health care was also interesting: “I just keep going to new doctors because I want to find the pediatrician who will tell me what I want to hear.” She’s in for quite a search.
Perhaps the thoughts she repeated most frequently best reveal her attitude: “I just think at the end of the day as a parent you have to do what you heart tells you to. And when my little girl is crying because she wants a baba, it just feels so wrong not to give her one.” Listen to your heart, eh? The heart that’s more deceitful than anything else, the heart that’s desperately sick? That doesn’t sound like such a good idea.
And since when is parenting about doing what feels good? I’m not a parent but my impression is that it’s about doing what is actually good for the kid, not what they want, or what’s easy. You should’ve seen how many bottles these people went through in a day. What great lengths they went to just to get their love demands met and to meet their child’s love demands. Another way they indulged Sophia was by letting her draw on their friends’ faces with make-up. “She’s creative and she wants to put make-up on people, and if you come over, you’re just going to have to deal with her putting make-up on you.” Talk about no boundaries! It’s a good thing they had a girl because otherwise their kid would probably beat everyone up. “Well, he just really likes to wrestle so you’re just going to have to deal with the bruises…”
The other thing she kept saying was, “You think I’m a bad parent.” And everyone assured her that no, she’s not a bad parent, and it’s so cool that she was willing to share her experience with other people. Well if she was a good parent why was she on the show for this in the first place? Obviously she wasn’t there as a picture of exemplary parenting. The problem is, she wants people to like her, Sophia most of all, and instead of doing what’s best for others she does what she thinks will make people like her.
But after bad-mouthing this poor deceived parent, I must admit that I do stuff like this, too. It’s just more subtle. I am too soft on people, not because I’m being kind, but because I don’t want to deal with an unpleasant reaction or possible rejection. I better get it together before I have kids!